Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryPhilosophy

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Jellyfishes in dark deep water

Nautilus Offers a “Primer” on Panpsychism

Noting the growth in interest from science writers as well as neuroscientists and philosophers, the magazine offers four essays discussing current approaches

Recently, we’ve been discussing the way panpsychism is creating competition for naturalism in the sciences. Where naturalism sees cognition/consciousness as an illusion that happen to aid survival, panpsychism sees it as part of the substrate of nature, more obviously present in more complex entities like humans than in less complex ones. Neither view appeals to the supernatural in principle but to the panpsychist, information is as much a part of nature as matter or energy. Its effects are pervasive and real. And consciousness is not something to just be explained away. Such a view may change the way many see nature on topics ranging from the environment to evolution. In a 2020 special edition of Nautilus, “Panpsychism: This Changes Everything,”…

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Big data futuristic visualization abstract illustration

How AI Changed — in a Very Big Way — Around the Year 2000

With the advent of huge amounts of data, AI companies switched from using deductive logic to inductive logic

In “Hyping Artificial Intelligence Hinders Innovation” (podcast episode 163), Andrew McDiarmid interviewed Erik J. Larson, author of The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do (2021) (Harvard University Press, 2021) on the way “Machines will RULE!” hype discredits — and distracts attention from — actual progress in AI. Erik Larson has founded two two DARPA-funded artificial intelligence startups. Inthe book he urges us to go back to the drawing board with AI research and development. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/34ce0d74-aa74-4ad9-9599-e9ddf2be56a7-Mind-Matters-News-Episode-163-Erik-Larson-.mp3 This portion begins at 01:59 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Andrew McDiarmid: Can you paint a picture first for us of what the AI landscape looks like today and why it’s not…

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Light bulb with big hands in moment of insight on blue

Physicist: Science, by Nature, Can’t Have a Theory of Everything

Such a theory is a sort of religious quest that has united philosophers, theologians, and scientists, But is it possible?

With admirable clarity, astronomer and physicist Marcelo Gleiser explains what a Theory of Everything is and is not: It’s not about every detail of life that happens to us. It’s the search for a single, underlying force that unites the four fundamental forces of nature — gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force — into one single underlying force. Why haven’t we found it? Well, first, he says, “We do not see this unity because it is only manifest at extremely high energies, well beyond what we can perceive even with our most powerful machines.” But second — and more significantly — there is a real question, Gleiser contends, whether science is by nature suited to…

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AGLA is a magical name of God

Egnor and Solms: What Does It Mean To Say God Is a Person?

Mark Solms and Michael Egnor discuss and largely agree on what we can rationally know about God, using the tools of reason

Last time out, as South African neuropsychologist Mark Solms and Stonybrook neurosurgeon Michael Egnor continued to discuss the mind vs. the brain at Theology Unleashed (October 22, 2021), Solms said that he believed in Spinoza’s God — so did Albert Einstein, actually. Now he asks Egnor about the idea that God is a Person. Summary to date: In the first portion, Solms, author of The Hidden Spring (2021), began by asserting in his opening statement that “the source of consciousness in the brain is in fact in the brain stem,” not the cerebral cortex, as is almost universally assumed. Dr. Egnor then responded that his clinical experience supports the view that brain is not mind. Then Solms pointed to the…

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Concept.

Is Truth Just What Your Peers Will Let You Get Away With Saying?

Sound, logical thinking is NOT the norm. Many people, anxious to remain in good standing with leaders and influencers, live quite happily with incoherence and inconsistencies

Mathematician and philosopher William Dembski offered an analysis of Christian apologetics (defense of Christian beliefs), “Making Apologetics an Effective Instrument for Cultural Engagement” at the Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting “Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World” (November 19, 2021). His discussion raises broad issues around how a culture assesses and understands truth. Republished with permission here in four parts. Below is the second portion, “3 Giving Culture Its Due” and “4 The Worldview Audit and Its Limitations” (The first portion is “1 The Unfulfilled Promise of Christian Apologetics” and “2 Truth Is Never Enough”) 3 Giving Culture Its Due We inhabit not merely a physical environment but also a cultural environment. Our cultural environment sets boundaries for what we may think,…

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Abstract Unique Young Woman Standing In the Middle Of A Galaxy Crack

Einstein Believed in Spinoza’s God. Who Is That God?

Neuropsychologist Mark Solms admits that life is “miraculous” and sees Spinoza’s God, embedded in nature, as the ultimate explanation

In the most recent portion of the discussion between South African neuropsychologist Mark Solms and Stony Brook neurosurgeon Michael Egnor at Theology Unleashed (October 22, 2021), talk turned to defining consciousness. Which led in turn to the remarkable (in Solms’s view, “miraculous”) difference between life and non-life — which is not merely a matter of religious opinion. If an accounting is required, it turns out that even Einstein believed in some sort of God and Solms follows his thinking, as we see below. Egnor offers a different view. Summary to date: In the first portion, Solms, author of The Hidden Spring (2021), began by asserting in his opening statement that “the source of consciousness in the brain is in fact…

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Businessman hand change wooden cube block with TRUST and TRUTH business word on table background. Trustworthy, Truth, beliefs and agreement concept

What Makes Arguments for God Convincing — or Not

Is truth enough? A look at the unfulfilled promise of Christian apologetics

Mathematician and philosopher William Dembski offered an analysis of Christian apologetics (defense of Christian beliefs), “Making Apologetics an Effective Instrument for Cultural Engagement” at the Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting “Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World” (November 19, 2021). His discussion raises broad issues around how a culture assesses and understands truth. Republished with permission in four parts. The first part is “1 The Unfulfilled Promise of Christian Apologetics” and “2 Truth Is Never Enough.” 1 The Unfulfilled Promise of Christian Apologetics I’ve been writing professionally in the field of Christian apologetics now for over 30 years. In fact, looking at my CV, I see that one of my very first publications in apologetics (an article titled “Inconvenient Facts: Miracles and…

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military robot and skulls of people. Dramatic apocalypse super realistic concept. Rise of the Machines. Dark future. 3d rendering.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Just Did Not Load Properly

Although the second part of the Matrix trilogy offers interesting ideas and exciting action, the confusing plot obscures the concepts it should explore

What a mess of a story is The Matrix Reloaded (2003) — the second part of the Matrix (1999) trilogy, in which the world we know turns out to be a simulation created by AI intelligences. We met some of the characters in the first part, The Matrix (1999), reviewed here. But then what happened? First, we’re introduced to the new technician, Link, but no one explains where his predecessor Tank went. Then Zion (“the last human city, the only place we have left”) is introduced and there we find ourselves at the infamous Party Scene: To look at this techno-hedonistic rave, one might think we’ve entered volcano-challenged Pompeii of long ago. But this party is more reminiscent of the…

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multiverse conceptual illustration

Multiverse Cosmology Is Not a Good Argument Against God

Or against fine tuning of our universe. God could have created countless universes on various principles for a variety of reasons

New Scientist’s executive editor Richard Webb, a “recovering particle physicist,” offers a look at the current state of the idea that there might be an infinity of universes out there. Why believe it? Mainly, it turns out, to avoid believing something else: Gods and their intelligent designs are less in the mainstream of scientific thought now, yet similar ideas about an optimal universe still trickle through cosmology. That is principally down to some mysterious numbers that determine its workings. Tot them all up in the standard models of particle physics and cosmology, and you end up with about 30 constants of nature – numbers like the strengths of the fundamental forces and the masses of elementary particles that our theories…

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Red Pill Blue Pill concept. The right choice the concept of the movie matrix. The choice of tablets

Will The Matrix Resurrections (Drops December 22) Break the Mold?

The culturally influential trilogy (control by evil aliens) enjoys a fascinating beginning — but a thud! ending

The Matrix trilogy is famous for starting strong, then falling apart by the end. Will this happen again? We’ll see. After eleven years, the Matrix Resurrections comes out December 22, 2021. Now is the perfect time to look back at the original trilogy, starting with the first film, The Matrix (1999). The Matrix series begins by following a computer hacker named Neo, who is led by a beautiful stranger into a forbidding underworld. There, “he discovers the shocking truth — the life he knows is the elaborate deception of an evil cyber-intelligence.” He had been searching for the mysterious Morpheus who defends a human civilization from attack by machines. Neo is horrified to discover from him that not only is…

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Science and research of the universe, spiral galaxy and physical formulas, concept of knowledge and education

What If ET Has Morphed Into What We Now Call the Laws of Nature?

Astrophysicist Caleb Scarf has asked us to consider a daring hypothesis for conundrums around dark matter and dark energy

Columbia astrophysicist Caleb A. Scharf, has proposed that, if advanced technology might look like magic to less technologically advanced viewers, very advanced technology might look like the laws of nature: Toward the end of Carl Sagan’s 1985 science-fiction novel Contact, the protagonist follows the suggestion of an extraterrestrial to study transcendental numbers. After computing to 1020th places, she finds a clearly artificial message embedded in the digits of this fundamental number. In other words, part of the fabric of the universe is a product of intelligence or is perhaps even life itself. It’s a great mind-bending twist for a book. Perhaps hyper-advanced life isn’t just external. Perhaps it’s already all around. It is embedded in what we perceive to be…

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Billiard balls colorful background, 3D rendering

Can the “Physical World” Be Wholly Physical? Physical at All?

Nothing ever physically touches anything else in the physical world, yet the effects of objects on each other are a constant occurrence

Sounds like the answer should be “Of course!” But the question may not be as simple as it appears. Let’s wind the clock back to the first century BC, when a Roman poet and philosopher named Lucretius wrote the poem On the Nature of Things.” In this poem, Lucretius outlines a philosophy known as Epicureanism in order to demonstrate the world can be explained without reference to a deity. In the Epicurean philosophy, only three things exist: atoms, the void, and the universe. Consequently, everything we see in the physical world can be reduced to atoms bumping into each other. You may notice that Epicurean philosophy sounds similar to modern day physics. This is not an accident. Through the influence…

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The Earth from space. This image elements furnished by NASA.

Astronomer: We Can’t Just Assume Countless Earths Out There

He points out that the Principle of Mediocrity is based on faulty logical reasoning

Dartmouth physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser wrote recently that the Copernican Principle has been misused to imply that Earth is somehow insignificant. That, he says, is a philosophical attitude, unrelated to the science. We don’t know where Earth stands in relation to other planets because we do not yet have telescopes capable of getting much detail about planets outside our solar system. Gleiser, author of The Island of Knowledge (2014), has also tackled the Mediocrity Principle (because Earth is nothing special, there must be countless intelligent civilizations out there). According to Britannica, “Widely believed by astronomers since the work of Nicolaus Copernicus, this principle states that the properties and evolution of the solar system are not unusual in any important…

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The universe within. Silhouette of a man inside the universe, physical and mathematical formulas.. The concept on scientific and philosophical topics.  Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Philosopher: Panpsychism Is Not in Conflict With Physics at All

Responding to criticism from physicists Sabine Hossenfelder and Sean Carroll, Philip Goff points out that panpsychism is not a dualist perspective

At IAI.tv, University of Durham philosophy prof Philip Goff tells us that “The world of academic philosophy has been rocked by the conversion of one of the most influential materialists of the last thirty years, Michael Tye, to a form of panpsychism (panprotopsychism) in his latest book. And the main annual UK philosophy conference held a plenary panel on panpsychism this year for the first time in its history.” That’s part of a pattern in which philosophy and science are warming to panpsychism, the belief that either all entities or all living entities participate in consciousness. Dr. Goff, author of Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, offers some thoughts on what panpsychism is and isn’t: Panpsychism is the…

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Brick through Window.

15. Debate: How Can a Cause and Effect Occur at the Same Time?

In the broken window analogy, the brick becomes a cause simultaneously with the shattered glass becoming an effect

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), a questioner asks, are singularities really a part of science? Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of…

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Pinocchio

14: Debate: Is Morality a Mere Emotion That We Project On Others?

Theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty continue their conversation about basic issues at Theology Unleashed

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), a questioner asks, what underlies morality? Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, turning to…

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Black hole illustration

13. Egnor vs. Dillahunty: Are Singularities a Part of Science?

Also, an audience member asks the debaters: Does atheism make better predictions than theism?

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we now look at questions from the audience on whether singularities are really a part of science and whether atheism is really a belief system that can make predictions. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut…

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Time flies

A Man in Dire Need Contacts His Unborn Grandson — Sci-Fi Saturday

The grandson “gets the mail” and sends back something from the future, via a mysterious mailbox, that gives the felons a considerable surprise

“Mailbox” at DUST by Louis Yin (October 15, 2021, 17:00 min) An American Chinese immigrant makes contact with his grandson in the future via a mailbox. Together they have to deal with their mutual enemies. Review: Based on Yanan Wang’s short story, “The Post man,” the story begins in New York City in 1946, where Chinese immigrants are oppressed by a criminal landlord. The gritty, authentically period tale begins to revolve around an old mailbox that turns out not to be time bound. Not a spoiler: Bo (William Yuekun Wu) can mail things to the future. His grandson (whose life appears to have only somewhat improved by being two generations on… ) can, however, help by mailing back stuff from…

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Extrasolar planet with atmosphere and moon

Harvard Astronomer: Advanced Aliens Engineered the Big Bang

Avi Loeb writes in Scientific American that when we humans are sufficiently advanced, we will create other universes as well

At Scientific American, Avi Loeb, the longest-serving chair of astronomy at Harvard (2011–2020), tackles the question of what came before the Big Bang. He surveys the conventional explanations for this singularity in time and space (when all points are zero) and comes to a somewhat surprising conclusion: Creation by an alien intelligence is the best way to account for our universe: Now there are a variety of conjectures in the scientific literature for our cosmic origins, including the ideas that our universe emerged from a vacuum fluctuation, or that it is cyclic with repeated periods of contraction and expansion, or that it was selected by the anthropic principle out of the string theory landscape of the multiverse—where, as the MIT…

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A Young Man Reading The Bible To Another Young Man In Jail

12. Egnor vs. Dillahunty: How Can God Be Both Just and Merciful?

After atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty explains his view of morality, an audience member asks neurosurgeon Michael Egnor to explain how a just God can show mercy

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we are looking at the nature of good, as well as the problem of evil. Now, as the questions continue, Matt Dillahunty defends his view of the foundations of morality and Michael Egnor explains how justice and mercy can be combined. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were…